Tuesday, 10 January 2017


What ought we to be doing?  How ought we to be living?  What ought we to be saying?  What kind of church ought we to be?

The word ‘ought’ is an interesting one.  I ought to do this.  I ought to have done that.  It carries the suggestion of how things should be, or should have been, and also includes the suggestion that they were not quite there.  This is how it should have been, but it wasn’t quite right.  I ought to have done so-and-so – and the implication is that I didn’t. 

So John says to Jesus, on that occasion when Jesus came requesting baptism, as recorded in Matthew 3:14 – I ought to be baptised by you.  John is effectively saying that things are the wrong way round.  They should be different.  He should have gone to Jesus for baptism, but actually what has happened is that Jesus has come to him – and so he responds to the request – I ought to be baptised by you.

I guess that, most times, it is best that we get on with doing the things that we identifies as things that we ought to do – and so, instead of saying ‘I ought’, we can say ‘I have’. 

However, sometimes that is not how it is going to be, and sometimes it is best to leave things as they are.  And so, on this particular occasion, Jesus says to John: Let it be so for now.  Jesus wants to model what God can do.  His whole ministry is designed to demonstrate that.  Jesus is concerned to point the people in the right direction.  It offers a message of hope, as it stresses the possibilities that can be realised with God.

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